The Definition of Islamophobia and How It Changed Throughout History

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Although Islamophobia means Islam / Muslim fear as its literal meaning; when we go deeper, we see that it includes discrimination and racism against Muslims. In this context, Muslims are perceived as a ‘religious – ethnic group and generalized hatred is felt against all its members (Sajid, A. 2005). They act with the pre-acceptance that all Muslims reject modernity, primitive and freedom-equality. The first use of the word Islamophobia in the modern era goes back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Although it was mentioned in a book written by Etienne Dinet in 1918 on this axis, we know that its use emerged after the end of the Cold War in the 90s as we know it. In other words, as a reflection of the fact that the nature of racism has shifted from-ethnic-racial superiority” to “cultural superiority”, Islam-Muslims are the enemies of the West has been circulated in the context of perceptions and discourses.

Although it was first used in 1991(Sajid), it was first described in 1997 in the report-book published by the British think-tank Runnymede Trust (Allen, C. 2010). Accordingly of Islamophobia, non-institutional hostility towards Islam, and hence dislike, fear and hate all or most of the Muslims is defined. This report-define Islamophobia has become a relatively established concept in political and public debates.

The event-history, in which Islamophobia showed a paradigmatic change, evolved into anti-Islamic religion and discriminatory practices due to their religions towards Islam and Muslims, was the event that took place in New York on September 11. This is the stage in which the fear in the concept evolves into discrimination, which, as it is the case today, leads to Islamic-Muslim opposition and hostility, as well as racism towards Muslims (Green). As a matter of fact, after this date, Islam and Muslims have been commemorated with violence and terror.

From this point of view, Islamophobia, Islam’s common value with the West non-Jewish, Christian, Greco-Roman and humanist civilization that it is a political ideology rather than a belief and spirituality, unlike Judaism and Christianity, that Muslims are religious fanatics with a tendency to violence against non-Muslims, and that they lack democracy, equality and tolerance (Sajid).

It means the acceptance of stereotypes. In this respect, there is a reductionist attitude in Islamophobia. Islamophobia, therefore, has the potential to lead to a range of negative emotions, discourses and actions for Islam and Muslims, such as racism, discrimination, exclusion, prejudice, hatred, humiliation, stereotypes and even violence. Islamophobia has emerged as a sub-branch of xenophobia, which is basically a sense of anti-foreign fear. Accordingly, every anti-foreign is also an anti-Islamic. However, not every anti-Islamist can certainly be said to be an absolute foreigner. As a matter of fact, there are those who are anti-Islam and anti-Muslim but not against foreigners other than Muslims. In relation to Islamophobia, the expression anti-Islamism with nuances is also used. The concept of anti-Semitism, which means anti-Semitism, is one of the concepts that came up in this context (Canatan, Kadir 2010).

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The dramatic increase in Islamophobia was triggered by an increase in the number of Muslim immigrants, radical-integrist predecessors, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 and subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe (Sway 2005). All these events in each country can be seen as some important reasons for the formation, development and of Islamophobia in the West. As a matter of fact, after this date, Islam and Muslims associated more with violence and terror than before.

The rise in Islamophobia was triggered by an increase in the number of Muslim immigrants, radical-integrist predecessors, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 and subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe. In this process, Islamophobia in the West has climbed as far as it can be dangerous dimensions – from the open to hostility and aggression, while on the other hand an increase in anti-American and Western opposition has been observed in the Islamic world. Therefore, Islamophobia has become a tangible hostility that is manifested in physical attacks against Muslims in schools, workplaces, mosques, public transportation vehicles and on the streets, which have now crossed the threshold of being intolerant towards Muslims, baseless fear, discrimination, hate speech. Muslims have become an unacceptable other (Martjin de Koning 2016).

This shows that Islamophobia has reached the stage of full-acceptance, discourse level of action and physical attack. In this respect, according to recent reports on Islamophobia, Islamophobia in the West has increased significantly in different areas such as education, employment, media, politics, the judiciary and the Internet.

Moreover, this increase is not limited the working class or middle class who are misinformed about Islam and Muslims and whose economic situation is deteriorating. Also the educated and elite classes are affected from it. Accordingly, Muslims are seen as enemies both inside and outside, being marginalized, and it is becoming more common that Muslims are not citizens with equal rights. The prohibition of hijab for some professions and minarets in some European cities or all other regulations restricting Muslims’ freedom of expression confirms this determination.

As an example, Muslims living as a minority in Western countries have been living in these countries for many years, although they make important contributions as a part of society. In this context, we can mention that the subject of discussion is considered as foreign-other. Even for Muslims who were born and raised in those countries, there are studies that see the use of these qualifications as a manifestation of modern racism.

This is not an explicit-direct exclusion and discrimination in modern racism, but with the disadvantages of living in a minority, the language-style of the debates about migrants and Muslims, and trying to address some social problems related to them by cultural-religious dimension, indirect discrimination with generalizations and labeling (Bobocel, D. R., Hing, L. S., Davey, L. M., Stanley, D. J., & Zanna, M. P. 1998).

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